The Bombay High Court on Friday extended the time given to poet and activist Varavara Rao to surrender before jail authorities till October 14, The Indian Express reported.
A bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar passed the order citing lack of time to hear Rao’s plea on extension of medical bail.
Rao is an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, which pertains to caste violence in a village near Pune in 2018. He was among 16 people who were arrested for allegedly plotting the violence.
The poet’s counsel told the court on Friday that he was protected from surrendering before the Taloja jail authorities in Navi Mumbai only till September 25, Live Law reported. The court then extended the protection granted to him for two weeks and listed the plea for hearing on October 13.
In an affidavit filed last week, the National Investigation Agency opposed Rao’s petition.
The agency claimed that his medical reports did not disclose a “major ailment” that necessitated the extension of bail, according to Live Law.
Rao noted in his petition that he suffers from lacunar infarcts (a neurological condition) due to arterial blockages in the brain. The plea also said that the poet has other pre-existing neurological conditions as well.
The poet’s petition noted that he had been advised to undergo cataract surgery in both his eyes.
On September 6, Rao’s counsel had highlighted that the 81-year-old took 13 medicines every day for the neurological problems, cholesterol, blood pressure and other health conditions.
On February 22, the Bombay High Court granted bail on medical grounds to Rao for six months. He was at the time undergoing treatment at Mumbai’s Nanavati Hospital. He was released from the hospital on March 6.
The High Court had granted him bail on the condition that he has to stay within the jurisdiction of the special court of the National Investigation Agency. The court also asked the activist to mark his presence with the nearest police station through video call on messaging platform WhatsApp.
Rao has also been directed not to issue any statements or speak to the media.
Bhima Koregaon case
The NIA has alleged that Rao and 15 others were part of a conspiracy to incite violence at the Bhima-Koregaon war memorial near Pune on January 1, 2018. One person was killed and several others were injured in the incident.
The first chargesheet was filed by the Pune Police in November 2018, which ran to over 5,000 pages. It named activists Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, all of whom were arrested in June 2018.
The police claimed that those arrested had “active links” with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), and accused the activists of plotting to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
One of the accused, 84-year-old tribal rights activist Stan Swamy, died in custody in July. Swamy, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease and also contracted the coronavirus infection while in prison, was repeatedly denied bail despite his deteriorating health condition.
Currently, 14 activists and academicians are in custody in connection with the case. They have been jailed under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in the case without any reliable evidence.
A supplementary chargesheet was filed in February 2019, against human rights activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) leader Ganapathy.
The accused were charged with “waging war against the nation” and spreading the ideology of the CPI (Maoist), besides creating caste conflicts and hatred in the society.